Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tree Hugging, an old legend gives new insight to loving a Tree!

A Woman's Burden, Sepai Tone, Lily Silver, 2006

Today's blog post isn't about romance, but rather something darker. Imagine being a beautiful young woman, and being harassed by a Greek god, a god whose amorous attentions you'd rather not be subjected to. 

There is a an ancient legend from the Greeks, a very old legend about a girl who was pursued by a god, a god who she didn't like. She tried to get away from his constant attentions. Her rebuffs just didn't work. He wouldn't leave her alone.

She was walking alone in the forest one day, and this very pesky Greek god began harassing her again, getting ready to actually ravish her. He chased her through the forests. She prayed to the goddess to save her from this horrible fate. The goddess turned her into a tree. An actual tree. Now, I've heard the one where a woman is turned into a pillar of salt, or into stone. But a tree?  Seriously?

This is an old legend that can be found in the stories of Ovid, in The Metamorphises.

It goes like this: Young Daphne the forest nymph had an admirer that was far too exuberant in his wooing. This was the Greek god Apollo. He was handsome, of course, and most women would die to have this perfect god lusting after them. Not Daphne. This lovely girl despised marriage and sex. She didn't want anything to do with Apollo, but he was a god and he was determined to have her. 

As Apollo closed on Daphne, she called out to the gods to help her. Just as Apollo grabbed her, Daphne's skin turned to bark underneath his fingertips and she grew leaves and foliage. She was transformed into a laurel tree. Apollo, not one to give up so easily, stroked the tree for a while (yeah, sort of sick, isn't it, but it's in the legend!)  and then cut off some of her branches and wove them into a crown, a crown of laurels. Apollo proclaimed the laurel as his sacred tree.

Golden Splendor, Lily Silver, 2007
Daphne, however, escaped her stalker, but whether or not she had a good life as a tree is unknown. Maybe that is where the legend of tree spirits comes into play. Or maybe, just maybe, she became one of the ENTs, like in Lord of the Rings, a sentient being capable of rational thought and emotion, locked into a tree.  A truly odd story, but then, the Greeks have always had an odd twist when it comes to such things.

So forgive me if this post doesn't feature 'timeless lovers'.  As its summer, I just couldn't get the image of poor Daphne out of my mind.  So, then, wanna go hug a tree?

If you do, just be careful, don't be rude or disgusting, as you might be offending a tree spirit, or risk angering a woodland god. 

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